By Megan Doyle | American Express Credit Intel Freelance Contributor
9 Min Read | December 22, 2020 in Cards
American Express offers three main credit card categories: travel and dining cards, points cards for everyday spending, and cash back cards.
Each card category has three unique variations with different benefits and ways to earn rewards.
The right credit card for you depends on your lifestyle and spending preferences.
According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, American Express invented the “travel and entertainment Card” in 19581 after – according to the company’s own history – imagining a Card combining “the security of Travelers Cheques with the added flexibility of credit.”2 American Express invented Travelers Cheques in 1891.
Fast forward to today: That simple credit card idea has evolved into a plethora of possibilities ready to suit the incredibly diverse lifestyles, tastes, and spending habits of a 21st century generation. Today, American Express offers several categories of credit cards, each with three unique card variations to suit any Card Member from the everyday shopper to the luxury traveler. While some people think of these card variations as “levels,” it’s more accurate to think of each as its own, special category with its own benefits and rewards so you can choose the card that matches your purchasing preferences:
Understanding the value and nuances of each American Express Card’s benefits can help you choose the right card for you and your lifestyle. Terms apply to all benefits for the credit cards listed below and all offers listed are subject to change. APRs are accurate as of November 27, 2020, and are subject to change.
If you’re an avid traveler and restaurant-goer, these three “classic” American Express Cards were designed to meet your needs. The Membership Rewards® points you earn with these credit cards – and other eligible American Express Cards – won’t expire as long as you have at least one active, enrolled Card, and there’s no cap to how many you can earn, so they’ll be waiting for whenever you’re ready to redeem them.
American Express® Green Card. Amex’s Green Card gets you 3 points/dollar spent on eligible restaurant, transit, and travel purchases, with 1 point on other eligible purchases. Travel-oriented extras include no foreign transaction fees3 and $100 yearly credits for airport lounge access and CLEAR, a service that helps you quickly get through security at select airports and stadiums. It has an annual fee of $1503 and offers payment flexibility: If you don’t plan to pay your balance in full, you can request eligible purchases to be paid over time,3 subject to limitations.
Consider the Green Card if: you’re a more casual traveler and diner, can pay an annual fee of $150,3 and you desire a fairly flexible repayment scheme.
American Express® Gold Card. Similar to Green, but with 4X points at restaurants and 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel. Gold also adds 4X points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 a year in purchases, and 1X points on other eligible purchases. Gold’s annual fee is $250,4 and you typically have to pay your balance in full each month unless you opt into Pay Over Time – with interest,4 of course. Despite the supermarket spending perk, Gold still emphasizes travel and dining, but also adds:
Consider the Gold Card if: you travel and dine out often, can pay the $250 annual fee,4 and want to boost your rewards-earning potential from regular supermarket shopping.
The Platinum Card®. Platinum shines for avid travelers, with 5X points for flights booked directly with airlines or Amex Travel on up to $500,000 a year in purchases, and 5X points on hotels booked and paid in advance through Amex Travel. New Card Members will also get 10X points at eligible U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations for the first six months of Card Membership on up to $15,000 in combined purchases. Its $550 annual fee5 is worth it if you travel often and prefer luxury to economy. Platinum also offers a few luxury benefits:
Consider The Platinum Card if: you’re an avid traveler who wants luxury travel benefits and plans to pay your statement balance in full each month.
Interested in earning Membership Rewards points for the purchases you make every day? These three American Express Cards – Blue from American Express, Amex EveryDay, and Amex EveryDay Preferred – reward you for regular spending, from restocking the fridge to filling the gas tank and more. Your spending earns Membership Rewards points that can be redeemed in a variety of ways, such as travel, gift cards, and statement credits.
Blue from American Express. A straightforward Credit Card that earns you 1 point per dollar spent on eligible purchases and 2X points for eligible purchases made through Amex Travel. There’s no annual fee, and you have the flexibility of paying off your Card in full each month or over time, with interest.6
Consider the Blue from American Express Card if: you want a simple Credit Card that offers repayment flexibility and the ability to earn rewards in any spending category – including travel – with no annual fee.6
Amex EveryDay Credit Card. This Credit Card will get you 2X points/dollar spent at supermarkets on up to $6,000 in yearly purchases. You’ll also get 2X points/dollar for purchases made through Amex Travel. Other purchases get 1 point per dollar spent. But if you use your Card for 20 or more purchases within a billing period, you can get a 20% point bonus on that month’s purchases. There’s no annual fee, and right now Amex EveryDay offers a 0% introductory APR on purchases for 15 months from the date of account opening, then a variable APR of between 12.99% and 23.99%.7
Consider the Amex EveryDay Card if: you’re interested in a Card that allows you to earn rewards for everyday purchases like groceries, don’t want to pay an annual fee, and might benefit from a temporary 0% intro APR promotion.7
Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card. Get 3X at supermarkets up to $6,000 in yearly purchases, 2X at gas stations and Amex Travel, 1 point on other eligible purchases, and a 50% points bonus for 30+ purchases in a billing period. It comes with a $95 annual fee.8 Amex EveryDay Preferred also offers a 0% intro APR on purchases for the first 12 months of Card Membership, followed by a variable APR of 12.99% to 22.99%.8
Consider Amex EveryDay Preferred if: you’re interested in a Credit Card that offers more rewards for spending at supermarkets and gas stations, and you may benefit from a 0% intro APR.8
If earning points isn’t for you – or you want to expand the ways you can earn credit card benefits – American Express offers three cards that earn you cash back on all eligible purchases. Instead of earning points that you can then redeem for a number of options, cash back can be redeemed for statement credits – effectively earning you a discount on every purchase. Each card has different potential bonus categories like dining, groceries, and more, so you can find the right cash back card to match your spending habits.
Cash Magnet Card. Perhaps the most straightforward of American Express’ cash back cards is the Cash Magnet, with unlimited 1.5% cash back on all eligible purchases. There’s no annual fee,9 and you can get a 0% intro APR on purchases for the first 15 months of Card Membership, then a variable APR of 13.99% to 23.99%.9
Consider the Cash Magnet Card if: you want to earn rewards in the form of cash back instead of points, you like simplicity, don’t want to pay an annual fee, and may benefit from the 0% intro APR.9
Blue Cash Everyday Card. This is a tiered Card for those who want to earn more cash back in specific spending categories, namely:
It’s almost like the cash back version of Amex EveryDay Preferred, but there’s no annual fee.10 This Card also offers a 0% introductory APR on purchases for the first 15 months, then a variable APR of 13.99% to 23.99%.10
Consider the Blue Cash Everyday Card if: you want a no-annual-fee grocery and gas rewards Card that earns you cash back instead of points, and you may benefit from the 0% intro APR.10
Blue Cash Preferred Card. Blue Cash Preferred offers cash back opportunities on additional spending categories like streaming subscriptions and transit. More reward opportunities comes with an annual fee of $95,11 but the Card is worth it – especially for families and those who use a lot of streaming services, tend to cook at home, and commute to work. It also offers a 0% intro APR on purchases for the first 12 months of Card Membership, followed by a variable APR of 13.99% to 23.99%.11 With this Card, you can get:
Consider the Blue Cash Preferred Card if: you tend to spend a lot at grocery stores and gas stations, love your streaming services, and may benefit from its 0% intro APR.11
The best American Express Card for you depends on where you spend your money, how much you typically spend, and how you like to earn your rewards. American Express offers multiple card types – travel and dining, everyday spending, and cash back – each with a unique mix of rewards and benefits so you can find the best match for your purchasing preferences.
Article Sources and Notes
1 “Credit Card,” Encyclopaedia Britannica
2 “Our History,” American Express
3 For more on Rates and Fees for the American Express® Green Card, click here.
4 For more on Rates and Fees for the American Express® Gold Card, click here.
5 For more on Rates and Fees for The Platinum Card®, click here.
6 For more on Rates and Fees for Blue from American Express®, click here.
7 For more on Rates and Fees for Amex EveryDay® Credit Card, click here.
8 For more on Rates and Fees for Amex EveryDay® Preferred, click here.
9 For more on Rates and Fees for the Cash Magnet® Card, click here.
10 For more on Rates and Fees for the Blue Cash Everyday® Card, click here.
11 For more on Rates and Fees for the Blue Cash Preferred® Card, click here.